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Lady Pioneers down but not out

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It must feel like déjà vu in the locker room of the Western Oklahoma State College Lady Pioneers basketball team. One year ago, the Lady Pioneers entered Christmas break with a 6-7 record, and this year, they’ve done the same.

The biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is the Lady Pioneers ability to score and keep games close, for the most part. In 2017-18, the Lady Pioneers scored, on average, 60.3 points per game through the first 13 games of the season. On the defensive end of the ball, the Lady Pioneers gave up 59 points per game, nearly two points less than the team is giving up so far this season.

But last year’s Lady Pioneers didn’t face the level of competition Western has this season. Through the first half of the 2017-18 season, only Ranger, Redlands and Clarendon were finding success on the court. Clarendon led all teams with a 14-1 record.

So far this season, the Lady Pioneers have faced three one-loss teams and two two-loss teams. Two of those teams, New Mexico, ranked as high as first in the country this season, and Northern Oklahoma College in Enid are nationally ranked teams. Through the first half of the season, the Western’s opponents have a combined 63-21 record.

Still, the Lady Pioneers’ defense has held opposing offenses to an average of 61.3 points per game while Western’s offense has averaged 70.3 points per game.

A lot of the reason for that comes from the new scoring threats Western has on its roster. Ariel Williams is still capable of being the explosive player that she was for the Lady Pioneers last season but has been hobbled by an injury she sustained on a slick court early in the season.

Williams, who coach Eddie Broughton Sr. said is playing with more confidence this year, is leading the Lady Pioneers in offensive production. The sophomore guard is averaging 16.6 points per game while shooting 42.3 percent from the field.

Williams has been more efficient this season — she shot 37.2 percent last season — while scoring just two points less per game than she did in 2017-18.

Following behind her has been Rhamsey Wyche who is averaging 13.3 points per game, just ahead of Paradize Jackson who is averaging 12.4 points per game.

No other player on the Lady Pioneers’ roster last season, aside from Jackson, scored more than seven points per game.

This season, Delecia Brown is averaging 7.2 points per game while Emmy Cobb is beginning to heat up and is averaging 6.4 points per game.

Her strength has been the deep shot, and because of her ability to knock them down at a close to 40 percent rate, she has seen an increase in her minutes per game.

This team is not close to where it wants to be yet, but considering the strength of the Lady Pioneers’ schedule in the opening months, things could be much worse for Western.

The Lady Pioneers hit the road for their first game of the new year when they traveled to Cisco to take on the Lady Wranglers on Thursday. The results were not known by press time.

Western will be on the road again Monday when the Lady Pioneers take on Murray State at 5:30 p.m. and will be at Eastern Oklahoma State at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

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